Buffalo is an underrated city and mostly known just for huge amounts of snowfall. Sure, that happens once or twice a year, but the rest of the year it’s a great place to visit. Buffalo is easy to drive around without heavy traffic, great restaurants are all over the area, arts and music are everywhere, there are natural landmarks and outdoors to explore year-round. The craft beer scene is excellent, as well. It’s an underrated gem.
What to Eat
Big Tree Inn
This is strictly for Bills fans, folks. It’s on the corner next to the stadium in Orchard Park and not in “Buffalo.” The walls are covered in Bills memorabilia (is “memoraBILLia” too dorky?) and there is always a contingent of current and former Bills in the bar after a game. The menu is good and the vibe is great on game day.
Bar Bill Tavern
Most folks know Anchor Bar or Duff’s as the touristy chicken wings to get when you come to Buffalo, but Bar Bill has become the new trendy tourist destination. Most players on the team — most notably MVP candidate Josh Allen — trumpet them as the best wings in town. They’re also not in “Buffalo,” but it’s a short car trip.
Biggest tourist attraction
Internally, Bills fans consistently mock TV broadcasts of games because they literally always show Niagara Falls even though it’s 45 minutes away. That being said, if you’ve never been there, it lives up to the hype. The Maid of the Mist lets you take a boat to near the bottom of the Falls, you can Journey Behind the Falls and literally walk underneath the pounding water. Once the border opens after COVID-19, the Canadian side is also a great view (and both sides have casinos if that’s your thing).
Under the radar attraction
Owned and developed by Kim and Terry Pegula, owners of the Bills, Canalside is a great place to visit. There are restaurants, live music in the summer and ice skating in the winter right on the Erie Canal. The Buffalo Naval Park is next door, as is KeyBank Center if you’re going to take in a Sabres game or concert, and the Ralph Wilson Children’s Museum is next door.
Game day experience
As a reminder, the Bills’ stadium is in Orchard Park, NY, and not in the City of Buffalo and there isn’t really public transit to take you from Buffalo to Orchard Park. Not that you would want to. If you’re coming to a Bills game, you want to tailgate (there’s even an RV lot if you can get a spot ahead of time and spend the weekend). Private and team-owned lots encircle the stadium, and most die-hards use the private lots since they open earlier. It’s usually not family-friendly in those lots, so if you’re bringing the kids, you might want to stick to the team lots. With folks staying in the parking lot as late as possible, lines can be long to get in so start heading for the gate a half hour before kickoff.